Thant Warns if Present Mideast Impasse Continues, New Fighting Will Break out

Secretary General Thant said today that “recent developments have added to the urgency” of his remarks in his Sept. 17 report that “there can be little doubt that, if the present impasse in the search for a peaceful (Middle East) settlement persists, new fighting will break out sooner or later.”

Thant’s report to the General Assembly on “The Situation in the Middle East” called on “the appropriate organs of the United Nations” to “review the situation once again and find ways and means to enable the Jarring mission to move forward.” The report was issued in preparation for the General Assembly debate on the Mideast.

Thant noted that during May 5-12 and Sept. 21-Oct. 27, Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring of Sweden, his personal Mideast emissary, was here at UN headquarters, ready to continue his peace efforts, but “found himself faced with the same deadlock and with no possibility of actively pursuing his mission.”

He added that during much of this time the promotion of agreement between the parties was the object of an effort by the United States to promote an interim agreement providing for the reopening of the Suez Canal, “which has not, so far, achieved any positive results,” and a mission of inquiry conducted by four African Presidents “which is still in progress as this report is being prepared.” While these efforts were being pursued, Thant said, “they obviously constituted an additional reason for him (Dr. Jarring) not to take personal initiatives.”

TEKOAH; PRECONDITIONS STALLED TALKS

Thant recalled that last Feb. 8, Dr. Jarring asked Israel and Egypt “to make to him prior commitments.” Israel “would give a commitment to withdraw its forces from occupied United Arab Republic territory to the former international boundary between Egypt and the British Mandate of Palestine,” while Egypt “would give a commitment to enter into a peace agreement with Israel and to make explicitly therein to Israel, on a reciprocal basis, various undertakings and acknowledgements arising directly or indirectly” from Security Council Resolution 242.

Dr. Jarring received Egypt’s acceptance of this proposal on Feb. 15, Thant noted, but on March 5 he (Thant) had to “appeal…to the government of Israel to give further consideration to this question and to respond favorably to Ambassador Jarring’s initiative.” In today’s report, the Secretary General wrote that “I said (Sept. 17) that I continued to hope–as I still do–that Israel would find it possible before too long to make a response that would enable the search for a peaceful settlement under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices to continue.”

Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah said of Thant’s report: “The Jarring mission was stalled by an attempt to impose preconditions to the continuation of the talks. It is obvious that the resumption of the talks cannot be achieved by insisting on the preconditions which had brought about the deadlock. The only way to continue the talks is by resuming and pursuing them without prior conditions.” A US spokesman said that in the absence of substantive new developments, the US would have no comment on the Thant report and instead would maintain a “holding action.”

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